Recruitment in early careers is broken, and aside from being one of the founding reasons behind my business, it’s something that needs attention. The world of recruitment is moving faster than ever before, against an ambiguous background shrouded in uncertainty. It’s a time where we need greater clarity and purpose in our approaches to talent acquisition across the board.
Here I share the three brand truths prevalent in early careers that I believe any employer seeking to connect, engage and inspire with today’s young people need to face head-on.
Brand recall is low
Research has shown that despite an increased frequency of visits by employers in schools and colleges, young people struggle to remember who they’ve encountered as part of their career exploration – 60% in fact – even though their teachers and careers leaders say that they have had multiple encounters as part of their career advice and guidance strategy. When it comes to talent acquisition, brand recall plays a crucial role in taking candidates on their journey from awareness through to application, and ultimately onboarding.
Employer brands need to work harder to ensure that the messages crafted as part of your attraction strategies ‘stick’. Chip and Dan Heath explore why some ideas take hold, and others come unstuck in their book ‘Made to Stick’. Quite simply, they share two key qualities: they are memorable, and people are eager to pass them onward.
Communicating your employer brand in a way that grabs attention, is credible, perceived to be important, and delivered in a way that young people can understand and relate to is critical here.
Consumer brands win
As I have written previously, choices are something that we have all grown up with, and that we’ve learnt to accept. But how do we make the right decision when we’re not so sure what to do? By trusting in what, (and who) presented the information we were looking for, to us. But trust needs to be built – and it takes time. Which is why when it comes to brand affinity, consumer brands win with young people, and indeed, the rest of us.
Voxburner asked 1500 16- to 24-year-olds from across the UK to choose their 10 favourite brands from a list of 100 compiled by their team of youth marketing experts – perhaps unsurprisingly, Netflix was the resounding winner with YouTube, Spotify, Amazon and Google making up the rest of the Top 5.
Compare this to any of the recent Top 100 employers lists for school -leavers, and you’ll notice there is a marked difference, in how young people ‘buy’ depending on what is being ‘bought’. Brand affinity takes time to build and is the most enduring and valuable level of any customer relationship, based on the mutual belief that the customer and the company share common values. Your ability to not only create content for the platforms where young people expect to find it is then heavily reliant on the use of writing which persuades, argues and advises, to position your brand as one to trust.
Your brand has a voice of its own
‘What’s it like to work for you?’ – a question I was often asked when working as a recruiter, speaking to young people and their influencers at careers events. Something that I learnt fast was that the script I had taught myself to respond lacked authenticity. After all, I wasn’t a qualified accountant, so I set about by recruiting a team of brand ambassadors from the cohorts of our apprenticeship programmes to harness the power of brand advocacy.
Why? Because advocates naturally use compelling stories that when told, can be used to show how something might be rather than attempting to prove it is so. They are authentic, something Generation Z is looking for. Something which if found to be absent can be the quickest way to lose a candidate’s interest in your opportunities.
The truth is that as much as you would like to control your brand voice through carefully crafted narratives and tones of voice, your existing talent is already talking about their experiences with you. Not just to their family and friends, but online. Many websites now provide a platform for apprentices and other early-career talents to share their stories. Investing in creating quality training and experiences for your talent has never been more important as part of your brand and attraction strategies.
One final truth…
I hope that by reflecting on these three truths, you can see the importance of selecting, communicating and embracing the right truths when it comes to your employer brand. Allow me to leave you with this thought from Edward Bernays, the pioneer of PR:
“ We are governed, our minds moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by (men) we have never heard of”
Steve has also graciously collaborated with us for our latest e-book: The Ultimate Guide for Employers – How to Attract, Engage and Hire Generation Z, in which he’s contributed an in-depth section on employer branding and why it’s so crucial for early career talent acquisition.
You can download it here: